East Devon housing numbers – and do they matter anyway given that developers rule OK?

Owl says: does it REALLY matter just how many houses East Devon NEEDS when developers take no notice whatsoever and just build what they want where it is most profitable – knowing that the council will just be penalised by being told to … build more houses … anywhere?  Time to stop this fantasy numbers game?

“East Devon Housing numbers, the debate continues!

The debate regarding the number of homes required to be built in East Devon and the enormous gap between the district low earnings but high house prices will be discussed shortly at a meeting at East Devon District Council

Following a meeting in October held by the Devon branch of the CPRE, (the Campaign for the protection of Rural England,) when they published a document:

“Devon Housing Needs Evidence”

This document questioned the excessive amount of house building within the county which is driven by the Government desire to build over 300,000 Houses per year.

Following the meeting of the CPRE a motion was put forward by the Independent group of councillors at last month’s Full Council meeting which expressed their deep reservations at the government`s requirements for future excessive housing delivery within East Devon.

It was agreed that Councillors will be debate the issue at theirStrategic Development Committee on Tuesday 27th Nov at the Knowle Sidmouth at 10am.

  The committee will be considering the Independents groups proposal for setting up a Member workshop” and an independent study to consider the specific housing needs of all groups within the community and how these needs make up the overall housing need for the area.

They are also being asked to approve a draft for a proposedresponse to the Government consultation on housing needssuggesting a revised approach to determine housing numbers.

The latest East Devon requirement for homes to be built in 2018, using the Government`s current methodology, is 698 “household projections” with a “workplace affordability ratio” of 9.84 and an affordability uplift of 37% to show an estimated housing needed of 953.

The uplifts are added to the base figure known as a Workplace Affordability” to cover the districts aspirations of future workplace/commercial provisions, plus a percentage increase of 37% known as the “affordability gap” Whilst in some UK locations the employment or commercial growth is expected to diminish East Devon economy is expected to grow.

The affordability percentage figure is used to inflate house building projections where there is a substantial gap between the areas average earnings and the house prices in the locality. The ratio in East Devon between average house prices and isover 9 times against the local average household income. The theory behind this government thinking is the more houses built in areas of high unaffordability, will result in a reduction in house prices and therefore reduce the affordable gap, thus helping the younger generations now unable to purchase their first homes.

The report to Council says there is no apparent statistical or financial assessment behind these uplifting percentages toindicate any impact they may have on house prices. They appear be numbers that have no clear or articulated logic behind them.

The report also explains that Government own calculations on the nationalneed assessment numbers fell from 269,000 in 2017 homes per year to 213,000 in 2018 but this outcome is clearly at odds with the Government`s stated requirement ofmore than 300,000 homes per year by the mid-2020s!

The report also proposes a response to the Government regarding these uplift figures.

We express concerns around the robustness and more importantly the justification that underlies the affordability uplift calculation that also features in the standard methodology. We would accept that there is a need to uplift numbers to address affordable housing needs but the basis for the current uplift calculator is unclear.

We would reiterate that the critical issue in any needs assessment is that any housing needs figure generated is done so through a process of logical assessment and evaluation and can be justified by robust evidence.

The report to Council full recommendations are:

1. Members to note the motion on future housing provision inEast Devon from the Council meeting of 24th October 2018.

2. That an independent study be commissioned to consider the specific housing needs of all groups within the community and how these needs make up the overall housing need for the area.

a. That the committee recommend to Council that a budget of up to £30,000 be set aside to meet the costs of the study.
b. That a Member workshop be set up in the new year toconsider the housing needs study and the overall housing need.
2. Approve the proposed responses to the Governmentconsultation on a proposed revised approach to determining housing numbers.

The full agenda can be seen on the EDDC website.

Click to access 271118strategicplanningcombinedagenda.pdf